8.16.2011

.tuesday's tip - editing w/ actions...(& a lot of other rambling).

So, I've been getting a few emails/Facebook messages from others who are interested in photography and even fellow photographers asking about my editing process and just photography tips in general.

I'm always a little taken a back and even writing this blog post is pretty funny to me. I still view myself as a beginner in all of this, with so much to learn. I'm no where near being an expert but if I have people who look up to me/can learn something from me, hey...I'll take it! It's exciting knowing I will only get better and better and I can't wait to see what's to come. This has been so amazing already and I feel so so lucky & blessed to do something I enjoy.

One of the most frequent questions that I'm asked is if I went to school for photography/have a degree in photography. The answer to that is a little yes and a big no. 

I took the two entry level photography courses at NMU - AD117 for black and white film photography & AD217 for color photography where we shot both film & digital. To make a long story short, I took those two courses and was shooting and booking sessions along the way for friends & family. I found I learned more by just being out there doing it than I did in class. It wasn't that the classes weren't good, I'm just better at learning hands on than being told how to do things. I enrolled in the next level course (at this time I was pregnant with our second daughter) but was putting my sessions and editing ahead of my work for class. It was then that my husband and I had a long talk and decided I didn't need to continue paying for daycare so I could go to class 4 days a week when I learn better on my own anyways. It was definitely the right choice for me. 

While having a degree is a great accomplishment, it wasn't necessary for me and I felt I would only be continuing to go for what others would say/think and not for myself.

Anyways, this is supposed to be about tips not my life story so onto editing... 

So, I shoot only in manual mode which EVERYONE should learn to do. You'll be amazed with yourself once you learn to do so and how much better your pictures are when you're in control of the settings rather than letting your camera choose what it thinks is right. I shoot with a Nikon D300S and my 50mm lens for 95% of my work and usually only use any others when shooting weddings. I plan to go full frame ASAP but am undecided on which camera I'll go with next. I plan to stick with Nikon since that's what I've learned on.

Another big tip is to learn your camera and all of it's functions. I'm still learning about my camera all the time. Also, don't be fooled into thinking you need the most fancy and expensive equipment. Sure, it's great to have but I had an art class with a girl who was showing me some of her pictures on Flickr and they were unreal. She then told me she took them with a POINT AND SHOOT camera because that's all she could afford at the time. I was in shock. While I obviously wouldn't suggest using a point and shoot for doing sessions, (I just don't think it would be fast enough or produce the quality you'd need for larger sized prints) she knew her camera in and out and had the technical knowledge needed to create gorgeous images. I've seen a photographer who has what's supposed to be the "best" camera right now and their work is no where near as good as another I know who has a basic DSLR. One of the most irritating things we're asked is, "You're pictures are really good. You must have a really good camera." I saw this compared to telling someone who cooks you dinner that, "The meal was great, you must have a really nice oven." :)

For my editing I import my images into Adobe Lightroom where I do any minor adjustments (white balance, color balance, temperature which I like a little on the warm side) and then I open up the images I'm going to use in Photoshop where I touch up any blemishes, do a little sharpening to eyes (this is something you need to be careful with and not OVER DO - like I used to!) and run any actions. My favorite actions are from Florabella & Paint the Moon. Again, don't go overboard. Actions have opacity settings for a reason and less is more! I've been asked if I use any textures and while I did go texture crazy a year or two ago, I no longer use them although I would if I felt it would benefit an image. Jessica Drossin has some gorgeous textures I've been looking at as do both Florabella & PTM.

I used to go overboard with editing and spend too much time/do too much to my images to the point of the naturalness of them being overtaken by the editing. I've learned less is definitely more and to keep things looking real.

Here's an example of a shot SOOC (straight out of camera) and the same shot with some eye sharpening and Florabella's Tea Time action:

 
I love how the image still looks natural but just has a warmer feeling and more of a "pop" to it...



Here's another, the after image from above & then Florabella's Black & White Film action:
 Have a happy Tuesday!
 xoxo Kaley



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